Are you paying too much property tax on your vehicle? Here’s how to check, and what to do about it.
Each year, South Carolina vehicle owners receive a county-issued property tax bill, which indicates the amount of money the state thinks the vehicle is worth. Bills usually show the dollar value of the vehicle (appraised value), but in some cases show only the assessed value, which is the percentage of the value that’s taxed, depending on the use of the car.
If the appraised value seems too high — more than the vehicle is really worth — an appeal can be filed with the county’s auditor, in writing, before the end of the month in which the vehicle’s tag expires.
If the vehicle was recently purchased from a dealership, the bill of sale can typically be used to demonstrate what the vehicle is worth. Otherwise, standards vary by county.
Dorchester County residents should look up vehicle values from Kelley Blue Book, using the “private party sale” estimates. Those are the values on which Dorchester County bases appeals, and the county auditor said his staff will look them up for taxpayers who ask.
Go online to kbb.com/whats-my-car-worth/ to check Kelley Blue Book price estimates.
In Berkeley County, the auditor uses insurance values from NADA price guides to process appeals. As in Dorchester County, the Berkeley auditor said county staff will look up those values for taxpayers who ask. Insurance values are published in printed NADA guides, available at some public libraries. Online, visit nadaguides.com and check the “clean trade-in” price estimate.
In Charleston County, those who want to appeal will need to get a written estimate of the vehicle’s retail value from an auto dealership. The appraisal should indicate what the car would be worth in a retail sale — not the amount a dealership would pay for it as a trade-in.
In many counties including Berkeley and Dorchester, vehicle value appeals are only good for one year, and taxpayers must appeal each year they believe the state-assigned values are wrong. In Charleston County, a successful appeal lowers the vehicle’s value for all years going forward.
In every county, tax reductions are also available for vehicles that have averaged more than 15,000 miles per year. The high mileage discount must be applied for annually.